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UEFA Europa League final: lowdown on Manchester United

What's their pedigree and how did they get here? A closer look at Manchester United ahead of their UEFA Europa League final meeting with Villarreal.

United celebrate during their emphatic win against Roma
United celebrate during their emphatic win against Roma UEFA via Getty Images

Team news

Possible XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelöf, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Pogba; Cavani

Pedigree

2017 final highlights: Ajax 0-2 Man. United
2017 final highlights: Ajax 0-2 Man. United

UEFA ranking: 8
UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League finals: 1
Previous final appearance: W 2-0 vs Ajax (2017)
Top-flight titles: 20
FA Cups: 12
Final league position: 2nd

Route to the final

Qualified: Transferred from UEFA Champions League
Round of 32: 4-0 Real Sociedad (4-0a, 0-0h)
Round of 16: 2-1 AC Milan (1-1h, 1-0a)
Quarter-finals: 4-0 Granada (2-0a, 2-0h)
Semi-finals: 8-5 Roma (6-2h, 2-3a)
Overall: P8 W5 D2 L1 F18 A6
Top scorer: Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani (5)

Why this is their year

Road to the final: All Man. United's goals
Road to the final: All Man. United's goals

Last season's semi-final defeat by Sevilla hurt Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his players. United had paid a heavy price for their profligacy – and are determined not to make the same mistakes this time, as evidenced by their ruthless first-leg display against Roma as they look to end their longest run without a trophy since the 1980s.

Tactics

Solskjær normally sets his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation but has been known to deploy a 3-4-1-2 system, and has even experimented with a 4-4-2 diamond.

Key players

Bruno Fernandes His goals and assists – 28 and 18 respectively in 57 appearances this term – speak for themselves, but his leadership qualities are no less important to this United side.

Edinson Cavani Like a seasoned athlete, the Uruguayan is finishing the season with a blistering kick – averaging well over a goal every 90 minutes since mid-April.

Harry Maguire The United skipper has played over 50 games for the club this season, orchestrating the back line. Should he not recover from an ankle injury to play in Gdańsk, his absence would be a big blow.

Schmeichel and Ferguson on United's 1999 glory
Schmeichel and Ferguson on United's 1999 glory

Potted history

England's most decorated club won their first title in 1908, but it was under Sir Matt Busby (1945–1969) that the Red Devils truly established themselves as a force at home and abroad, winning the European Cup in 1968.

The arrival of another long-term manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, brought a return to glory, winning 38 trophies during his 26-year spell in charge, including two more European Cups. United have an estimated 750 million fans worldwide.